Slim Republican majority on U.S. tax bill under threat after Marco Rubio defects – World

The U.S. Republican Party’s razor-thin margin for driving their sweeping tax package through the Senate was thrown into jeopardy Thursday when Republican Sen. Marco Rubio declared he will vote against it unless negotiators expand the tax credit that low-income Americans can claim for their children.

Rubio’s potential defection complicates Republican leaders’ goal of muscling the $1.5 trillion US bill through Congress next week, handing President Donald Trump his first major legislative victory by Christmas.

Senate Republicans could still pass the package without Rubio’s vote, but they would be cutting it extremely close. An original version was approved by only 51-49 — with Rubio’s support. The co-sponsor of Rubio’s proposed change, Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, is undecided on the overall bill and pushing to make the credit as generous as possible, said Lee spokesman Conn Carroll.

The Senate turmoil came on the same day that a key faction of House Republicans came out in favour of the bill, boosting its chances. Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus predicted that the vast majority of their members would support the package.

The developments came a day after House and Senate Republican leaders forged an agreement in principle on the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax laws in more than 30 years. The package would give generous tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and more modest tax cuts to low- and middle-income families.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, center, talks with Sen. Chris Coons, left, as they leave the chamber following a vote, in Washington, Thursday. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Republican leaders predict swift passage

Confident Republican leaders predicted swift passage next week, sending the bill to Trump for his signature.

At the White House, Trump said he was confident that Rubio will get onboard.

“He’s really been a great guy and very supportive. I think that Sen. Rubio will be there,” said Trump, who belittled Rubio during the Republican presidential primaries, calling him “little Marco.”

The tax package would increase the child tax credit from $1,000-per-child to $2,000. The bill makes a portion of the credit — $1,100 — available to families even if they owe no income tax. They would receive the money in the form of a tax refund, which is why it is called a “refundable” tax credit. Rubio wants to increase this amount but wouldn’t say…

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